How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Road

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You step out onto the sidewalk to start your walk, but before you can even look for oncoming traffic, your canine friend has leapt into the road without a care in the world. You swiftly pull on the leash to avoid the oncoming truck. Fortunately, you get away with just a beep from the truck and you read some choice words coming from his lips. This isn’t the first time your dog has had a near miss on the roads and you fear it won’t be the last. It’s made even worse if you live near busy roads where the chances of an accident are high.

Training your dog to stay away from roads could save you from serious consequences. If he is involved in a traffic collision and survives, you may have a hefty vet bill. But even worse, he may not survive and you could lose him for good. Setting some road boundaries, therefore, is essential.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to stay away from roads isn’t all plain sailing. Getting him to be aware of the road boundaries takes considerable time and a number of steps. You’ll have to increase your control with obedience commands and you’ll have to utilize a number of measures to make getting on the road harder. If he’s a young puppy he should be eager to learn and respond to training in just a week or two. If he’s older with years of playing traffic roulette under his collar, be prepared to invest up to 6 weeks into training.

Get the training right and you could well save his life. You may also save someone else’s life. Every year people die when they try to swerve out of the way of hazards on the road. You don’t want your canine pal to be responsible for anyone's death!

Getting Started

Before your road safety course begins, you’ll need a few bits. You need a quiet stretch of road to practice on and you’ll need to avoid training during the early morning and evening rush hour. You’ll also want to get some treats or your dog's favorite food broken into small chunks. These will be used to motivate and reward him.

You’ll also need a secure leash, 15 minutes a day to dedicate to training, and a positive attitude. Once you’ve collected all of that, you’re good to go!

The Sit and Safe Method

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Step
1
Head for a quiet road
Make sure you have him secured to a leash and have some yummy treats tucked in your pocket You’re going to teach him to sit every time he approaches a road.
Step
2
Hold out a treat
Make sure you’re on the edge of the sidewalk as if you’re about to cross the road. Use the treat to get his attention and then issue a ‘sit’ command.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as he sits give him a treat and some praise. If he doesn’t sit straight away, use your hand to gently push his bottom down. He may need some encouragement the first few times so be patient.
Step
4
Practice and make him wait
Practice this by constantly crossing the same road for 15 minutes a day for the first few days. As he gets the hang of it, keep him seated for longer before you give him a treat. This way you’ll soon have him sat and waiting for your permission whenever he’s about to cross a road.
Step
5
Only cross the road when it’s completely clear
Make sure you do this every time. This will slowly drill into him that he can only cross the road when it’s empty. If a car comes, pull him back to the sidewalk and have him sit again. If you’re consistent with this everyday for several weeks, he will quickly become the best behaved dog around cars you’ve ever met.
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The Utilize Help Method

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Step
1
A body harness and short leash
When you take him on walks near roads, have him on a very short leash. Also put a body harness on him, this will give you extra control and reduce the strain on his neck. This way you’ll quickly be able to pull him out of any car's way.
Step
2
Walk on the outside
Always walk between the road and your dog. Have him close to your side, further away from the road than you. If you keep this up every time you walk it will become habit for him to walk a safe distance away from cars.
Step
3
Be firm
If he does step onto the road, quickly pull him out of the way. Don’t shout and scare him, he won’t learn that way. Just be calm and assertive. If you react quickly every time, he’ll soon give up trying to step on the road altogether.
Step
4
Praise him
If you’re walking alongside busy roads and he stays well behaved by your side, give him the odd treat and verbal praise. This will help reinforce what the right behavior is when he’s near cars.
Step
5
Consistency
The key to this training is being persistent. It’s all about creating a road side habit. If every time he’s near cars he lets you walk on the near side to the cars, he’ll be safer. If he’s pulled off the road every time he steps on it, he’ll eventually stop doing it. If he’s rewarded for walking calmly around cars, he’ll repeat the behavior for more treats. So be consistent and after several weeks he will catch on.
Recommend training method?

The Wait Method

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Step
1
Find a quiet room
Take him into a room that’s free from distractions and go armed with a pocket full of treats. You’re going to teach him to wait whenever he sees a car.
Step
2
‘Wait’
Stand in front of him and issue a ‘wait’ command (it can be any word you want to use). Then take a step back and give him a treat. The key is to reward him even when you’ve barely backed up to start with.
Step
3
Gradually increase the distance
Start walking further away before you give him a treat. You need to slowly increase the distance and time he waits, otherwise he’ll get confused. Practice this every day until you can walk out the room and he’ll still stay sat there.
Step
4
Time to up the stakes
Head outside at a relatively quiet time of day. You need there to be a few cars, but not a really busy road. Walk as you normally would, but as soon as you see a car issue the ‘wait’ command. Have him sit there until the car passes and then give him a treat and lots of praise.
Step
5
Make it harder
Start on quiet roads, but after a few successful days you can start practicing on busier roads. Continue with the reward system until you can instruct him to wait swiftly whenever a car approaches. When he’s mastered it you can stop giving him treats and enjoy having a canine pal who’ll stand still and wait for cars to pass before he moves an inch.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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